Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2022-99
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2022-99
 
11 Apr 2022
11 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Operationalizing equity in multipurpose water systems

Guang Yang, Matteo Giuliani, and Andrea Castelletti Guang Yang et al.
  • Department of Electronics, Information, and Bioengineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, 20133, Italy

Abstract. Participatory decision-making is a well-established approach to address the increasing pressure on water systems induced by growing multi-sectoral demands and increased competition among different water users. Yet, most existing approaches search for system-wise efficient solutions and do not quantify their distributional effect among the stakeholders. In this work, we investigate how to operationalize equity principles to design improved water systems operations that better balance efficiency and justice. More specifically, we explore to which extent the inclusion of equity principles reshapes the space of efficient solutions. Numerical experiments are conducted on the Lake Como system, Italy, operated primarily for flood control and irrigation water supply while also providing recreation and river ecosystem services. Our results show how incorporating equity considerations into the design of water system operations enriches the solution space by generating more compromise solutions than those obtained using a traditional multi-objective optimization. Moreover, we find that including equity in the operating policy design can indirectly improve the performance of marginalized sectors, such as recreation and ecosystem, which are not explicitly considered by the current lake operation. Lastly, we illustrate how the aggregation of multi-sectoral interests into an equity index strongly shapes our results. Eliciting the preference structure of stakeholders and policymakers thus becomes paramount for the identification of a fair balance across competing interests. This work bridges the gap between multi-objective optimization approaches and equity-informed decision-making for real-world water resources planning and management, providing an effective tool to promote efficient and equitable policies.

Guang Yang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-99', Anonymous Referee #1, 23 May 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Matteo Giuliani, 25 Aug 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2022-99', Anonymous Referee #2, 27 Jul 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Matteo Giuliani, 25 Aug 2022

Guang Yang et al.

Guang Yang et al.

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Short summary
Participatory decision-making is a well-established approach to address the increasing pressure on water systems, which searches for system-wise efficient solutions but often does not quantify how the resulting benefits are distributed across stakeholders. In this work, we show how including equity principles into the design of water system operations enriches the solution space by generating more compromise solutions balancing efficiency and justice.